This article gives three reasons why development scholars concerned with civil society should move beyond an enemy perception of the private sector. First, private entrepreneurs are important social actors in development, possessing a variety of motivations and behaviours which defy monolithic perceptions. Second, entrepreneurs — active and retired — are moving away from passive charity and become active participants in civil society and in international development co-operation. Third, private sector discourses about development need to be unpacked and critically confronted. Here we examine the case for Corporate Social Responsibility: we conclude that established enemy perceptions block learning about and from the private sector. The private sector should be both welcomed and critically engaged, and that requires established civil society thinkers to re-examine the accuracy of their perceptions about the behaviour of private sector actors.